Pierre’s Playground: Take a Look at the Paris Olympic Designer’s Pan American Games Cross Country

Incoming Paris designer Pierre le Goupil has laid out a strong track for this year’s Pan American Games. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

It’s the eve of cross country at the 19th Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, and we’re all eagerly awaiting the unveiling of Pierre le Goupil’s work this weekend. As the next in line to design the Olympic course, any intelligence on Pierre’s courses — which were also used at this year’s European Championships as well as at other European Long formats — is useful, though of course the nature of the ground differs between venues.

One thing this venue and the Palace of Versailles grounds have in common is a distinct lack of major terrain, so Pierre’s gotten creative to make a twisting and turning track that should be fairly challenging on time. Remember, the cross country at the Pan American Games is set at CCI3*-L technical specifications (while dressage and show jumping are held at the 4* level), so while the fences won’t be dimensionally large (ok, well it depends on who you’re asking, honestly), the technicality will be certainly up to standard.

I’ll drop the map and fence-by-fence of the track, provided by CrossCountryApp, below — you can also view the course here.

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The optimum time for the course is 8 minutes, 3 seconds, with a total of 36 jumping efforts and 23 numbered obstacles. Making clever use of limited space, the track doubles in on itself several times, and there aren’t a multitude of areas where it looks like the horses will get ample time to make up seconds. Setting out with a race car driver mentality (looking at you, Liz) will most likely be the name of the game, as going down on your markers early will mean a challenge later on to make them up.

You can get a good view of the questions thanks to USEF Eventing’s social team below (or here, if the embedded Instagram post doesn’t display in your browser):

And here’s a look at each fence in gorgeous detail — can we just talk about the lobster jump?? — provided by Shannon Brinkman Photography:

Here is some additional context on the course as printed in a press release from the USEA:

The course that starts in the main arena over the Vina del Mar Clock fence before moving into the polo field at the military base and then out across open country is the centre of everyone’s attention now. Designed by Frenchman Pierre Le Goupil and built by Jump1’s Dominic Moore from Great Britain it is colourful, clever and a whole lot of fun. The two men worked together just once before, at the FEI Eventing European Championship 2023 at Haras du Pin in France in early August.

“We don’t talk enough about the builders who have fantastic skill and creativity,” said Le Goupil today. “Six months ago I didn’t know who I was going to work with, I had an idea of what the course should be technically-speaking but the details of the fences I didn’t know because it depends on the materials you have and who is going to do the job. Dominic is creative and it has been an exchange of ideas between us”, the Frenchman explained. The Pan American venue in Quillota is very different to Normandy.

“Here natural material we would normally use is not available or is very different. At the end though the result is fantastic and everybody loves the way it has been built and presented. Now it has to please the riders and spectators tomorrow, and we will let the sport talk,” Le Goupil said.

He explained the principles he adheres to when designing fences for riders with differing levels of experience at the PanAms.

“The course has to provide an opportunity for everyone to finish, but it should not be too easy. We need to have a first, second, third and last! Safety is the priority, but too easy is never safe. It has to be challenging enough so that they pay attention, questioning enough so they stay focused, we need to keep them mentally busy and paying attention all the way along.”

The optimum time is 8 minutes 3 seconds.

Course-builder Dominic Moore is delighted to be working alongside Le Goupil again, in a very different setting to the French countryside. “It’s a great experience for us to do two Championships on opposite sides of the world!”

“At the Europeans we had big rolling hills and natural timber and when we came here we wanted to do something totally different,” he explained. His build team includes Charles Mathews and John Williams who both run crews for Jump 1 in Europe, Aert Vandergoes from Maarsbergen Horse Trials in Holland, Raymond Martins who builds for Eric Winter in Argentina, Eric who has come along to help and Hannah Mathews who is in charge of flowers. Many of the fences have been beautifully painted by the Coddou family who live locally. The father of the family is a former Commander at the military base.

Full start times for the cross country tomorrow will be made available here and you can in the meantime save them by clicking here. And in some exciting news, you’ll now be able to view the cross country FREE on the FEI TV channel of ClipMyHorse.TV (or, of course, using your ClipMyHorse membership if you have one). Cross country will begin at 11 a.m. local time, so 10 a.m. EST. I’ll also be running live updates for cross country here on EN, and Cheg Darlington will be running a live blog from cross country day at the Pau CCI5* — there’s plenty left to see this weekend, so stay tuned and Go Eventing!

Follow along with EN’s coverage of the Pan American Games, presented by Ocala Horse Properties, here. We also recommend following @usefeventing on Instagram and Facebook as well as @canadianeventingteam for more content from on the ground, as well as roving photographer Shannon Brinkman here.

#Santiago2023: [Website] [Eventing Timing & Scoring] [XC Start Times] [Entries] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage]

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